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Monday, 23 January 2017

NBA Picks January 2017 (January 23-31)

It has been an up and down month for the NBA Picks but there are just nine days left of the month so I will collate all of the results in this one thread.

There hasn't been a lot of fortune behind the picks which has been frustrating and it just needed a couple of teams to lock down when holding a big lead in the final five minutes of games which would have put me in a much better position. Things can quickly change and hopefully this week will end up producing a winning one that can take the month into a positive.

Monday 23rd January
Houston Rockets @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The last couple of weeks have just seen the Houston Rockets lose some of the consistency that has seen them move into a position of being the third best team in the Western Conference. They head into this game having lost four of their last seven and a disappointing home loss to the Golden State Warriors in that time might just have highlighted the gap they still need to bridge if there are serious ambitions of winning the NBA Finals.

The trade deadline is fast approaching, but it is unlikely the Rockets will look to strengthen in there but simply try and get better on the court with the roster they have at their disposal. Defensively they have been a little erratic which does put pressure on a team on the other side of the court where they are very much reliant on the three point shot working.

That aspect of their game has been struggling of late and the Houston Rockets will try and get back on track when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks who are riding a five game losing run into this game. Things have been a little sour for the young Bucks with Jabari Parker benched for giving away details of a private meeting he had and Defensively this is a team that has not been making stops.

Milwaukee have allowed at least 109 points in each of their their last five losses and that issue has been magnified by the fact they have only scored more than 98 points once. They should have more success Offensively against the Houston Defense, but Milwaukee are going to have an issue winning if they cannot make stops against a powerful Offense that should have Ryan Anderson back.

The Rockets should control the boards in this one too and they can improve their 4-1 record against the spread in the last five in this series.

New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers Pick: The New York Knicks have not really matched up very well with the Indiana Pacers in recent games between these teams, especially when the game has been played at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Recent performances have been heartbreaking for the New York Knicks who have found special ways to lose games that they perhaps should not be, and that has meant they are off the pace in the Eastern Conference Play Off picture.

Games like this are vital for the Knicks to try and get back on track as they visit an Indiana Pacers team who have lost back to back games, but have been much better at home than on the road. The Pacers have won five in a row at home which includes a 14 point win over the New York Knicks earlier this month, but this one should be a lot closer.

In the earlier win, the Knicks were dominated on the boards which is a big surprise when you consider the two rosters that will be out there. Joakim Noah may miss out for New York, but the Knicks have dominated the boards in the last four games which has allowed them to keep games competitive and now they face a Pacers team who have been struggling on the boards.

New York were blown out at the Toronto Raptors when shorthanded, but that is their only defeat of more than three points in their last seven outings. The Knicks do have the scoring power to stay with Indiana at the very least, especially with the Defensive problems the Pacers have been having, and they do have a winning record against the spread when visiting a team with a winning record overall.

The concern is clearly the 1-9 record against the spread in their last ten games in Indiana, but this can be a rare cover for the Knicks if they battle effectively on the glass and keep up the heavy scoring they have been providing.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Utah Jazz currently hold the second longest active winning streak in the NBA having moved to six in a row on Saturday and that means they have joined the struggling LA Clippers in numbers for the season. Finishing in the top four of the Western Conference will mean at least one home series in the Play Offs and the Jazz are more than capable of doing that over the next few months with trade rumours surrounding Gordon Hayward a little quieter.

Those might pop up again in the coming weeks going into the trade deadline, but for now the Jazz look settled and comfortable with what they are being asked to do. It should also be noted that four of their six wins on their current run have come against teams with a losing record so there are still some questions as to how good Utah are.

Those questions will be asked on Monday when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder who have lost three of their last four games and could be missing Steven Adams for this game. The Thunder are well rested having last played on Wednesday, but the over-reliance on Russell Westbrook has become clearer and clearer in each passing week.

Westbrook is still producing stellar numbers, but he needs help and Defensively the Thunder have been having some issues which should be vulnerable to the size of the Jazz. Without Adams the rebounding battle is going to be edged by the home team and Utah have thrived as the favourite of fewer than eight points this season as they have compiled a 17-8 record against the spread.

Utah are also 5-2 against the spread in their last seven at home against Oklahoma City and I do think they can be a little too good at both ends of the court in this one. I like the home team to cover here.

Tuesday 24th January
Simply backing the underdog, both against the spread and straight up, on Monday would have rewarded players with some huge returns. The underdog was 8-1 straight up and against the spread on Monday which included Miami upsetting the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans beating Cleveland straight up despite being set as double digit underdogs.

That was a strange day to say the least so heading out with a 1-2 record is perhaps a saving grace.

San Antonio Spurs @ Toronto Raptors Pick: Playing on a back to back is a difficult task for every team in the NBA, but the San Antonio Spurs didn't exactly tax themselves in beating the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. They also gave Kahwi Leonard a rest and expect him back in the line up when they visit the Toronto Raptors who have lost three in a row and have had some questions being asked of them.

The main one is whether the Raptors will dip into the trade market to get a little closer to the Cleveland Cavaliers who remain the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. That question will be answered in the coming weeks, but the Raptors are just focused on trying to snap their recent losing run which includes a really poor home loss to the Phoenix Suns.

While their visitors are likely to have their best player back in the rotation after missing out on Monday, the Toronto Raptors are missing DeMar DeRozan which is a big blow for their team. Finding the quality to replace his scoring power is tough and heaps more pressure on Kyle Lowry who struggled the last time he faced the San Antonio Spurs.

Finding that scoring could be key against a Spurs team who have scored at least 112 points in their last four games, all wins, and who have been shooting the ball efficiently. Tony Parker and Pau Gasol are out, but San Antonio seem to plug their holes better than most teams and they can snap a poor recent run in Canada where they are 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five visits.

San Antonio have a solid 4-2 record against the spread when favoured by fewer than 4 points and I think they will just have a little too much for the Raptors in this one.

Boston Celtics @ Washington Wizards Pick: I have already mentioned how difficult it can be to play the second of a back to back series for teams in the NBA, but it has been particularly tough for Washington who are just 2-7 in this spot this season. Both wins have come against the New York Knicks so suffice to say the challenge of hosting the Boston Celtics is considerably more difficult.

The Wizards have been one of the form teams in the Eastern Conference over the last few weeks though and they won a big game at the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. That means they continue to close in on a top four place in the Eastern Conference Play Off picture, while Washington are also protecting a thirteen game winning run at home.

These teams don't like one another so it could be another chippy game with enough motivation for the Wizards to not be affected by the back to back spot. Washington have been shooting the ball effectively and they have been strong on the boards which will give them a chance to upset the Boston Celtics.

Boston are well rested having not played since Saturday, but they have lost two in a row as a big favourite with some issues on the Defensive side of the court. Missing Avery Bradley is not helping matters and now they face a back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal who are both capable of getting going and producing plenty of points.

It is difficult to set aside how well Boston have played as a small favourite this season- they are now 7-1 against the spread when favoured by less than 3 points and that is the spot for them here. They are also 5-1 against the spread in their last six against Washington, but the Wizards should be pumped for revenge having lost at the TD Garden last week and their home run means I will take the points with the underdog in this one.

Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic Pick: Neither the Chicago Bulls nor the Orlando Magic look amongst the best teams in the NBA, but there are times when the Bulls can put it together and look better than their record indicates. The Bulls have won three of their last five games to get back into the top eight of the Eastern Conference, but the Orlando Magic will still feel they can get back into that mix if they can start stringing some wins together.

Stringing wins together looks a long short for the Magic who have lost four of their last five games and were blown out by the Golden State Warriors two days ago. However that loss to the Warriors is one that many teams will take over the course of the season and Orlando will feel they can bounce back here.

They are facing a team with the bigger names for the casual fans, but Orlando have been shooting well enough to have success against a Bulls Defensive unit which has not been consistent enough all season. In four of the last six games Orlando have played they have managed to get to 112 points or more and that makes them a dangerous team for Chicago to face.

Chicago should have a definite edge on the rebounding statistics which should mean they have every chance of winning and covering on Tuesday. They are 3-1 against the spread when favoured by less than 3 points this season and the Magic are 3-5 against the spread when given between 1-2 points.

However, I think the Magic could be catching Chicago in a look-ahead spot as the Bulls are hosting the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Orlando also have a 7-1 record against the spread in their last eight against Chicago and they have covered in five straight at home. Add in the fact that Chicago are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games against a team with a losing record and I will take the points with the home underdog.

Wednesday 25th January
It is the second time in a short space of time that I have made my picks hours before the games have been due to start where the spread has moved because of a late scratch from a team.

The San Antonio Spurs went from 3 point favourites to 2.5 point underdogs after Kahwi Leonard was a surprising omission despite expecting to be back in the line up. The Spurs won, but they didn't cover the original number because they won by 2 points thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge missing two free throws when closing out the game.

Frustrating to say the least, and the kind of game that does piss me off.

Sacramento Kings @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: There are still three months of the regular season to go in which time teams have a chance to iron out any issues they are having, but the Cleveland Cavaliers expect much more of themselves. 2017 has not begun well for the defending Champions who have lost five of their last seven games and LeBron James made it clear that the team need to get back on track now.

Blow out losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors would have hurt, while Cleveland have also been beaten by the San Antonio Spurs in that poor run. They were on the way to another blow out at the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night despite the Pelicans missing Anthony Davis and that looked to be the final straw for James.

I do expect a reaction in this one against the Sacramento Kings who have lost Rudy Gay for the season and continued to have trade rumours swirling around them despite being a couple of games out of the Western Conference Play Off standings. The Kings snapped a five game losing run with a win at the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, but the match up with Cleveland has been a difficult one for them and the same may happen on Wednesday.

Sacramento are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games against the Cavaliers and they are only 1-1 against the spread as a double digit underdog this season. For all the issues around Cleveland, scoring hasn't been one of them and this is a Cavaliers team that have an ability to be much better Defensively than those recent games have shown.

The Cavaliers have beaten Sacramento by 11 points or more in three of their last four and being called out by James might just see them put together a really strong effort. That is my feeling anyway and I will look for the Cavaliers to put in their best performance of 2017 so far and get over this big number.

Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Chicago Bulls are 5-6 straight up and against the spread in the second half of back to back games this season as they look to back up a tight win at the Orlando Magic when returning home. There is some revenge on the mind of the Bulls who were blown out at the Atlanta Hawks last week with only a rally from the bench making the score look anything like a competitive one.

That win made it six in a row for the Atlanta Hawks over the Chicago Bulls and they have gone 5-1 against the spread in those games. Performances over the last couple of weeks have seen the Atlanta Hawks take off players they had perhaps considered allowing to move on before the trade deadline and this is a team that is chasing a top four finish in the Eastern Conference.

They did lay an egg on Monday night in a heavy loss to the shorthanded LA Clippers at home, but the Hawks have not lost back to back games since early December and snapping a seven game losing run. Since snapping that run, Atlanta have gone 5-1 against the spread in their next game following a loss and I do think they can win here even if they don't look like they match up as well on paper as they seem to do on the court.

Atlanta have been outgunned on the boards in a couple of games recently by wide margins and that has to be a concern against this Chicago team. The Hawks have to do better but they have crashed the boards well enough in their two previous games against Chicago this season which should give them confidence to stay with the Bulls in that aspect of the game.

This has the makings of a really close game throughout, but Atlanta might have an edge in terms of energy after Chicago needed to invest a fair amount in their win at the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. That energy level could make the difference and I will back the Hawks to win on the road.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Milwaukee Bucks Pick: The Philadelphia 76ers have not been a very good team to back in the second half of back to back spots on their schedule as they have gone 3-6 against the spread so far this season. That includes some big numbers like the one they are getting on Wednesday, but this 76ers squad are playing some very confident basketball and I am not sure the Milwaukee Bucks should be favoured by this many points against any team other than the Brooklyn Nets.

Even in that case I would have reservations about the Bucks who did snap a five game losing run with a big win over the Houston Rockets a couple of days ago. Don't be fooled by the final score as the Rockets led early in the fourth quarter before going cold from the field and Milwaukee had a very strong day Offensively.

That Offense is capable of seeing them cover big spreads when it all clicks for Milwaukee and they are facing a 76ers team without Joel Embiid. However Philadelphia recovered a big deficit on Tuesday night before beating the LA Clippers and are playing with confidence levels not seen on their side of the court for many a season.

No Embiid is a concern, but the Milwaukee Bucks have to be careful not to overlook Philadelphia even though they play them between big games against Houston, Toronto and Boston. My issue for the Bucks is that while they have the Offense to score plenty of points, they have been struggling Defensively and Philadelphia may also have a edge on the rebounding stats which gives them a chance to stay competitive even on a back to back.

Milwaukee are 3-7 against the spread at home against teams with losing records this season and Philadelphia are 5-2 against the spread on the road against teams with a losing record. Add in the fact that the Bucks are 0-3 against the spread when favoured by 8 or more points, which includes a loss to Philadelphia at home earlier this month, and I will take the points and look for the 76ers to do enough to stay competitive.

New York Knicks @ Dallas Mavericks Pick: The New York Knicks have taken some bad losses on the chin in recent games, but they have shown there is plenty in the tank for this group of players with the way they have not let the heads drop. You can't disguise the fact that the Knicks have been finding ways to lose games they shouldn't be, but they have been very competitive and I think they can make use of the points being given to them in this road game in Dallas on Wednesday.

The Knicks may have a losing record, but they are still in with a real chance of making the Eastern Conference Play Offs if they can start turning these narrow losses into narrow wins. Wins at Boston and Indiana over the last week shows what this New York team is capable of, but they can't keep losing the close games.

They are facing the Dallas Mavericks who have won four of their last six games and absolutely embarrassed the LA Lakers in their last home game. Despite their slow start to the season, Dallas look capable of challenging for the Number 8 Seed in the Western Conference, although they remain a little too inconsistent at the moment.

Dallas have a very strong 5-0 record against the spread when favoured by less than 4 points this season and Wesley Matthews is likely to return in time for this game, but I do like the New York Knicks with the points. My main reason is that I think New York will be better on the boards than Dallas and the Knicks have been scoring plenty of points through Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose while also receiving significant support from their bench.

It does have to be said the Knicks will be tested by the work Dallas have been doing Defensively with only one of their last five opponents reaching triple digits and that coming in a game that went to Overtime. However I think the Knicks do match up well with this Dallas team and can improve their 5-2 record against the spread from their last seven in this series so I will take the points on offer.

Thursday 26th January
The problems remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers and there looks to be some discord between LeBron James and the ownership as to what needs to be done to improve the team. They might be the pick of the Eastern Conference even at this time, but the Cavaliers do look short of the likes of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs from the Western Conference.

The Play Offs are still three months away so there is time to get back on track, but the Cavaliers look like they need a couple of new faces to do that.

Indiana Pacers @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: There has been some improvement with the way in which the Minnesota Timberwolves have been competing and that has shown up with three straight wins coming by 3 points or fewer. Maybe this young roster is finally understanding what Tom Thibodeau expects from his team, although there is still some trade rumours circulating about Ricky Rubio who is being shopped around.

The Timberwolves have now won six of their last eight games which puts them back in contention for the Number 8 Seed in the Western Conference. They have beaten some of the better names in the NBA in that time too although Minnesota know there is some room for improvement on the Defensive side of the court which has been the strength of Thibodeau's teams in the past.

Minnesota will need the Defense to show up in this home game against the Indiana Pacers who have lost three in a row but have shown they have an Offense that should be taking them further. One of the problems for the Pacers has been making stops, but they are still in a decent position to finish as one of the Play Off teams in the Eastern Conference even if they are looking for more consistency.

The Pacers could be shorthanded on Thursday with Monta Ellis expected to miss out but both teams should feel they can do enough Offensively to win this game. However I like the Timberwolves as they have been a little stronger on the boards which was part of the reason the Indiana Pacers were beaten by the New York Knicks despite a strong first quarter.

It has to be said that neither team has played that well as the small favourite/underdog spots so that cancels itself out. However it is much harder to ignore the fact that Indiana are 3-9 against the spread when playing on the road against a team with a losing record and they are now 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games following a loss. I will back the Minnesota Timberwolves to win a fourth game in a row and this time by more than 3 points.

Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets Pick: Every team in the Western Conference will still have a reasonable chance of making it into the Play Offs in three months time which is a surprise as we are into the second half of the season. The top seven Seeds in the Conference look to be locked in with only positioning an issue over the next few months, but only 4.5 games separate Number 8 Denver Nuggets and the LA Lakers who currently have the worst record in the Conference.

There has been a real sense of improvement for the Denver Nuggets who are still six games under 0.500 but who have won five of their last seven games to move back into contention in the Conference. This is still a work in progress as the Nuggets are looking to become tougher Defensively and they will have been encouraged having held the Utah Jazz to 93 points in their last game.

Denver cannot overlook the Phoenix Suns despite this young team being in the midst of a rebuild. The Suns would have been winners of three in a row if not for a single point loss last time out and they have been competitive enough to go 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games which makes them dangerous to oppose.

However the Nuggets have won four in a row against the Phoenix Suns and this game is going to come down to which of the two teams is able to exert their dominance on the rebounding stats. Both Denver and Phoenix have been scoring points very effectively of late so those second chance points could be all important.

Denver are just 1-2 against the spread when favoured by 6 or more points this season, but I think they are doing just enough Offensively to pull clear. This is a home and home series between the teams, but the Nuggets can get the best of their home game before visiting Phoenix in a couple of days time.

Friday 27th January
Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics Pick: The Orlando Magic are one of the poorer teams in the NBA and they are missing some key players for this trip to the Boston Celtics, but it might surprise you to hear that I am going to back them to cover the spread. The Magic have been given a big number for this road game at Boston and while I do not expect them win, I do think there is enough about Orlando to keep this one close.

Top scorer Evan Fournier is out and has been joined by Jody Meeks and DJ Augustin, and it is only Augustin who has even a chance of suiting up for this game. That is quite a lot of Offensive power taken out of the Orlando rotation and they have suffered some big losses since these injuries hit with three of the last five seeing them lose by at least 14 points. The Magic were blown out at home by the Chicago Bulls earlier this week too, but they should be focused having been embarrassed by the Boston Celtics when hosting them in December.

On that occasion the Celtics ran away for a 30 point win despite only being a 1 point favourite going into the game. That has to inspire Orlando to try and bring their best and they do have the size to at least match Boston on the rebounding stats which may give them a chance to stay competitive.

It also should be noted that Boston have had a few issues Defensively in recent games and that has led to a lot more points being scored against them than they would like to see. Boston did blow out the Houston Rockets in their last game, but this is a team that has not played well as a big favourite this season and continue to miss Avery Bradley's Defensive energy on the court.

The Celtics are 0-6 against the spread when favoured by 8 or more points this season and face an Orlando team who have gone 7-2 against the spread when receiving at least that many points. That includes the Magic going 4-1 against the spread as a double digit underdog and they are also 7-3 against the spread when playing at a team with a winning record. On the other side, Boston are just 3-8 against the spread hosting a team with a losing record and I like the Orlando Magic to reverse a poor trend when visiting the Celtics and earn the cover on Friday.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors Pick: The Milwaukee Bucks have not been a very good team to back on the road as they have covered in only 33% of their road games so far this season. They also have a poor 1-5 record against the spread when playing at a team with a winning record, while the Toronto Raptors have matched up well against them as they have beaten the Bucks six times in a row and gone 5-1 against the spread in that time.

After saying all that, I am going to just mention that I am backing the Milwaukee Bucks with the points on Friday.

Milwaukee haven't been very good of late as they have dropped six of their last seven games and were somehow beaten at home by a Philadelphia 76ers team that had neither Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor available for selection. However there have been signs in the last two games that the Bucks are beginning to find their Offensive groove again and that should give them a chance to keep things closer than some may anticipate.

They are also playing against a Toronto team that have to be lacking in confidence having lost five in a row and the last couple of those in pretty heartbreaking fashion. The Raptors have missed the killer touch DeMar DeRozan has given them in the fourth quarter and filling his boots has been tough for them to do.

The Bucks should be able to challenge Toronto on the boards and they have been scoring efficiently enough to make it difficult for the hosts in this one. Previous experience of matching up well with Milwaukee may give Toronto the mental edge to close the door on the upset, but I think the Bucks can make use of the points in this one.

Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Chicago Bulls are on the brink of a meltdown after Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler decided to call out some of their teammates following an awful loss to the Atlanta Hawks a couple of days ago. The Bulls allowed 41 points in the fourth quarter and gave up a 19-4 run to lose a game they should have won and both Wade and Butler were critical of some of the work ethic of the players on the roster.

That was not well received by Rajon Rondo who made a not so subtle point about how veterans acted when he was learning his trade with the Boston Celtics and the Bulls look right on the brink. It may mean they are more active in the trade market than anticipated and overall this doesn't feel like a great atmosphere to play in.

Chicago will have to quickly try and play better when they host the Miami Heat who have suddenly won five in a row behind strong Defensive play and Dion Waiters playing out of his skin for the team. Waiters has made some big shots and the Heat will come in confident of the upset even if four of their five wins did come at home during this run.

The Heat have not played that well on the road, but they can keep this one competitive as they have been shooting the ball efficiently which can expose some gaps in the Chicago Defense. Miami can also match the Bulls on the boards which should mean we see a close game, especially as the road team come in with plenty of belief and have only narrowly been beaten in their two previous games against Chicago this season.

It has to be noted that Chicago are only 2-4 against the spread when favoured by 7 or more points this season and Miami are 10-4 against the spread when given 7 or more points as the underdog. I think the Heat are playing better than Chicago at this moment and I like the road team to earn the cover with the points.

Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: The Washington Wizards are arguably the hottest team in the Eastern Conference and their strong run has seen them move up the standings and now believe they can finish as one of the top four Seeds in the Conference. Some runs are based on a good spot in the schedule, but that can't be said for the Wizards who have knocked off a number of teams chasing Play Off spots while winning nine of their last eleven games.

They will head to one of the teams who are actually higher than them in the standings on Friday when they visit the Atlanta Hawks. This is another team that had a really strong run in recent weeks, but the Hawks have been a little more inconsistent of late and were very fortunate to beat the Chicago Bulls a couple of nights ago.

Only a strong 150 seconds to end the game allowed the Hawks to come back from 10 points behind and win in Chicago and they will need to be a lot better than that to do the same on Friday. The Hawks will be tested by this Washington team who have scored plenty of points of late, but have got on the same page as Head Coach Scott Brooks when it comes to what is expected on the Defensive side of the court.

I also think the Washington Wizards will have an edge on the rebounding stats and they have been looking after the ball with John Wall leading the way. The slight slippage on the Defensive side of the court for Atlanta will be a worry too and I am surprised that the Wizards are being given as many points as they are.

Washington haven't just been winning games, but they have covered the spread in their last seven and the last three of those have come as the underdog. I really though this might be closer to a pick 'em contest than it is and I will take the points with yet another road underdog on Friday.

Tuesday 31st January
Charlotte Hornets @ Portland Trail Blazers Pick: Both the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets come into this game with a losing record, but remain in a position to make the Play Offs. That was the least that both would have expected at the start of the season, but neither has found the consistency to really start moving up the Play Off standings in their respective Conferences.

There should be some revenge on the Portland minds after being embarrassed by Charlotte a couple of weeks ago in a road game. Being back at home for this one does lend the edge to the Trail Blazers who have been better here than on the road and they are facing a Charlotte team who have lost four in a row and who will be facing the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

It shouldn't take the focus away from this game, but the players can be forgiven for perhaps wanting to save some energy for the game with one of the best teams in the NBA. The problem for the Hornets has been the lack of efficiency at both ends of the court and the Portland Trail Blazers may match up well with them as they have shown some improvement in their Defensive work.

Charlotte can keep this close by winning the battles on the board, but they have struggled as a small underdog this season as they are just 1-3 against the spread when given less than 4 points as the underdog. It does have to be noted that Portland have not been a great favourite to back, but this looks a very good chance for them to win a game and cover.

The Trail Blazers have a 7-1 record against the spread in their last eight at home against Charlotte and I will be looking for Portland to win this by enough points to cover the number.

Denver Nuggets @ LA Lakers Pick: There are a few injury issues in the Denver rotation which could be a problem for the Nuggets, but they have won three in a row and seven of their last nine which has helped them into the top eight in the Western Conference. They are well rested having last played on Saturday and Denver have matched up well against the LA Lakers who have fallen to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

It has been difficult for a young Lakers team who have shown flashes of what they are going to be capable of going forward, but one who are missing D'Angelo Russell and likely Julius Randle in this game. The Lakers have lost three in a row and eight of their last nine and the Lakers have gone 0-7 against the spread in their last seven home games against the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers have not been a very good small underdog through the course of the season and I think the Denver Nuggets are scoring too many points Offensively for the LA Lakers to keep up with them. There are some problems for the Nuggets to resolve Defensively but I am not sure the Lakers have enough consistency to expose those vulnerabilities.

It should be Denver who dominate the rebounding statistics and I think that will see them pull away from the Lakers much like they did when they played here a couple of weeks ago. I expect that helps them come through with a win on the road and a cover.

MY PICKS: 23/01 Houston Rockets - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
23/01 New York Knicks + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
23/01 Utah Jazz - 5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
24/01 San Antonio Spurs - 3 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
24/01 Washington Wizards + 2 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
24/01 Orlando Magic + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
25/01 Cleveland Cavaliers - 11 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
25/01 Atlanta Hawks - 1 Point @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
25/01 Philadelphia 76ers + 11 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
25/01 New York Knicks + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
26/01 Minnesota Timberwolves - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
26/01 Denver Nuggets - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
27/01 Orlando Magic + 12 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/01 Milwaukee Bucks + 6 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/01 Miami Heat + 7 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/01 Washington Wizards + 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
31/01 Portland Trail Blazers - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
31/01 Denver Nuggets - 3 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)

January 23-31 Update: 8-10, - 2.72 Units
January 16-22 Final6-7-1, - 1.42 Units
January 9-15 Final6-6, - 0.54 Units
January 2-8 Final4-3, + 0.68 Units

January Update16-16-1, - 1.28 Units
December Final19-23, - 5.51 Units
November Final24-25-1, - 2.92 Units
October Final8-9, - 1.72 Units

Season 201732-34-1, - 4.64 Units

Final Season 2016150-143-7, - 5.37 Units
Final Season 2015109-108-5, - 6.91 Units
Final Season 201458-72-1, - 16.86 Units
Final Season 2013105-93-3, + 10.49 Units
Final Season 201279-53-1, + 27.48 Units

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